BusinessSetback for telecom companies, Supreme Court rejects plea for...

Setback for telecom companies, Supreme Court rejects plea for recomputing dues (AGR) owed to the government

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In January, the companies had moved the top court seeking recalculation of AGR dues

In a setback for telecom companies, the Supreme Court dismissed the applications filed by telecom majors, including Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Tata Teleservices, for recomputing adjusted gross revenue (AGR) owed to the government. Telecom companies had moved the Supreme Court last year seeking modification in the top court’s verdict in the AGR matter.

“All the miscellaneous applications are dismissed,” a bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao said while pronouncing the order in the case. The Supreme court bench was scheduled to pronounce the order on Thursday, but that was cancelled at the last hour.

In September last year, the top court had granted the telecom companies a period of 10 years to pay their pending AGR dues, amounting to Rs 93,520 crore, to the government. The top court had also mandated that 10 per cent of the outstanding amount would have to be paid by March 31, 2021. 

According to the Department of Telecom, Bharti Airtel owed more than Rs 43,000 crore as AGR dues, while Vodafone Idea’s balance payment exceeded Rs 50,000 crore.

In January this year, the companies had moved the top court seeking directions to the government to recalculate AGR dues, citing “mathematical errors” in calculation of the outstanding amount.

Voda Idea had claimed that its dues were Rs 58,000 crore and debt amounted to Rs 1.8 lakh crore, and had sought a correction in its “arithmetic errors,” whereas Bharti Airtel had claimed duplication and unaccounted payments.

The dispute centres around the definition of adjusted gross revenue (AGR). Telecom companies pay a percentage of their revenues as license fee to government and their contention was that non-core businesses such as rent or income from sale of handsets or roaming charges should not be included in the revenue of which they pay a percentage – they only wanted to pay on revenues earned from their core business.

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